Letting Life Lead
Bacon and I have not always gotten along. In the spring of 1999 I was living in my first third-floor attic apartment which had an electric stove, and my entire experience with cooking until then had been with gas with actual flames. One fateful day, I cooked a small bit of bacon, turned off the burner, and set the pan on the back burner for safety as I had always done. The problem was that I had unknowingly turned on the back burner and not turned off the front as I thought! The grease was smoking by the time I realized what happened, was dangerously close to catching fire, and setting off the fire alarm.
I, too hastily, removed the pan from the stove to move it to an open window in the kitchen. My hand wobbled and I spilled hot grease on my right foot. I used the F-bomb conjugated in various forms to construct an entire sentence. The result was three burn holes in the standard, apartment-gray carpet (I know, carpet in the kitchen. I don’t get it either) and gave myself quite an impressive second degree burn that took a month to stop hurting. It took another four years for the scar to vanish. Prior to that I’d burned many a bacon and made many messes. I hate cleaning. I especially hate cleaning grease spatter. For a while, my mom had one of those round convection air table top oven contraptions and used it to cook bacon. It was alright, but a pain in the caboose to clean.
Fast forward to a few years ago when I was wasting time on Google and found, by accident, a method for baking bacon that promised no spatter, no baby sitting, and nearly perfectly flat bacon. If all that were true, that meant no possibility for bacon grease injury and no need to clean an impossible to reach back splash! I pulled out my dusty roasting pan, lined it with foil, then topped it with an orphan metal rack to keep the strips out of the grease. I had to make some adjustments for time and temperature to compensate for the fickleness of various ovens, but it worked!
I will never cook bacon on the stove again.
What works for me is 375F for about twenty to thirty minutes in my stupid oven (depending on how done I want it), but the original recipe called for a 400F oven for ten to fifteen minutes. I suggest testing out different temperature and times until you find the range that make both oven and bacon happy. Also, bacon that has more fat tends to get over done faster so keep an eye on it near the end of cooking it if you like yours crumbly crisp like I do.
Thin cut bacon will definitely cook up differently than thick cut. Use the center rack for best results. One important note, if you layer more than one pan in the oven cook time will be longer. I think it is more efficient to get more than one pan to fit side by side in the center, cook them separately, or to get a bigger pan. I’m using foil, but you can line yours with parchment paper. Be sure to crease them to form a lip to catch the drippings. You can transfer your delicious bacon leavings to a jar to use later (let it cool down a little bit first), or once the grease is fully cool it will congeal and be easy to toss.
You likely have pans and racks to use already. Stoves used to come with a broiling pan, but I don’t know if that’s true any more. If you need to, you can buy them, use a low roasting pan (usually comes with its own rack), or a high sided cookie sheet. Any rack will do as long as it can hold the bacon; they are also useful for cooling baked goods so they don’t get soggy on the bottom. I am using a small broiler rack, but you might find the spacing too wide for your tastes and might prefer something more like a cooling rack. Got a nice round, cast iron pan? Never fear, there is a rack for that! If you really want to try this and don’t have one on hand, you can still do it using just foil. Tear off a piece of foil a little bigger than your pan and fold it like an accordion; 0pen it up for an instant rack. Bacon can be baked directly on the pan, but the strips will be sitting in grease so will need to be drained of all the extra with a lot of paper towels (not what I recommend).
Try cooking your bacon this way and have your ultimate bacon experience taken to the next level of Nirvana.
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Author of suspense novels Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, The Stix, and New Age Lamians. As well as the short story collection Time Wasters and (co-author of) The Suspenseful Collection. Columnist for The Conscious Talk Magazine.
...and devoted cat enthusiast.